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CSIRO cuts to hit alternative fuel research


Tony Moore

CSIRO’s Queensland research in geothermal energy, carbon capture and biofuels and its education program will most likely feel the brunt of an estimated 66 CSIRO jobs to be lost in the state.

CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark on May 14 identified the areas where Australia’s leading scientific research would be cut back in the wake of the Federal Budget.

In an email to all staff, Dr Clark said geothermal energy research, carbon capture and storage, liquid fuels, neurosciences, urban water research, schools education and clinical medicine in areas outside nutrition would be cut.

Fairfax Media is now investigating how intensive these research areas are in Queensland.

CSIRO’s Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies at Pullenvale provides clean coal technology research.

The same centre has for almost a decade provided research in the liquid fuels areas.

The CSIRO is also a sponsor of geothermal research conducted by the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence at the University of Queensland.

Queensland has two education units – because it is a large state geographically -  one in Brisbane and a second in Townsville.

These centres face job cuts, although CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said no cuts to the education area would be taken until June.

“There are seven staff employed in Brisbane and four in Townsville,” Mr Morgan said.

“We’re still determining the full impacts of the Budget and cannot advise how many staff will be affected until then. This should be known by the end of June 2014.”

He said CSIRO’s state-based teams will be maintained in Brisbane and Townsville, “with a focus on delivering national programs that highlight CSIRO’s research”.

“Numbers of staff will be determined once the full impacts of the budget are worked through.”

CSIRO Education school visit services in South Queensland are fully booked for 2014 and are heavily booked in the Townsville office.

Both centres provide daily visits to primary and secondary schools.

The Queensland Government used CSIRO facilities at Pullenvale as a launch pad for its plans to teach mining in Queensland schools, however did not reply to requests for comment on how the CSIRO cuts might affect its plans.

Mr Morgan said CSIRO was still trying to evaluate the impact on Queensland of the budget cuts.

Modelling of CSIRO positions in Queensland by the the Community and Public Sector Union last week estimated that 66 CSIRO jobs would be lost in Queensland after analysing the budget papers.

On Friday last week, Dr Clark, said CSIRO could benefit from research linked to the new Medical Research Future Fund, in part funded by the $7 GP co-payment.

“We will await the progress of the new Medical Research Future Fund and the mechanisms for funding particularly in relation to CSIRO’s work in food and nutrition, e-health, biomedical manufacturing and vaccines and therapeutics for viruses coming from animals which are important areas for our Flagships and integrated health strategy, “ Dr Clark said.

She said CSIRO would still receive $3 billion dollars of government funding and $1.9 billion dollars of external partner funding over the next four years.

17 comments so far

  • I see in this newspaper today that El Nino has 70% chance of developing next August......if you live in a bushfire zone I'd start getting ready now as El Nino droughts/heat are going to be worse in a time of climate heating....good luck ....and then blame Abbott.

    Date and time
    May 20, 2014, 5:22PM
    • Most of these things have been researched by other countries for many years and work successfully. Why don't they just get on with it and starting using them? No use in researching the same thing to death just to keep researchers employed.

      Date and time
      May 20, 2014, 6:28PM
      • Yes this has been researched in other countries and each usually look at the problem with different biases and approaches thus making it important for Australia to have its own research team thus ensuring the best outcomes for all. Not to mention keeping a small brain trust within our shores not assisting multinationals overseas make bigger profits from our scientists work from the Australian tax paying public.

        Mike D
        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 7:52AM
      • What nonsense! As mining trails off, Australia needs to position itself in the knowledge economy. We need to be world leaders, not followers if our standard of living is to be maintained.

        This is a short-sighted government that is giving close to a quarter of a billion dollars to school chaplains pushing god to students, and while slashing science budgets.

        Don't forget, it is the CSIRO that is the largest holder of patents on intellectual property in the country.

        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 9:40AM
    • this government has got to go ABC and now CSIRO research what is wrong with these morons

      Date and time
      May 20, 2014, 7:14PM
      • The LNP would have cancelled research into fire making.

        Date and time
        May 20, 2014, 7:31PM
        • The barbarians are now officially running this nation. Pseudo liberal cavemen in suits, puffing their cigars and determined to keep their fossil fuel empire running forever. If Australia was a company, then the LNP have just announced bankruptcy and called in the liquidators. Of course the liquidators will receive a big slice of the pie like all liquidators do, assets sales to mates, big salaries and luxurious lifestyles, as they slash and cut everything that our nation once stood for. We may as well have let the Japanese win WW2 because we are losing everything we once held dear, to an out of control barbaric government, so intent upon their vindictive and destructive ideology that they punish the unemployed, sick, uneducated, indigenous, disabled and aged just so they can drag a few more bucks out of them. Now I know how the European nations must have felt as the Nazi's pillaged their way across the continent. I'm thoroughly disgusted by this donations-for-big-favours government and disgraced and ashamed to be an Australian!

          Date and time
          May 20, 2014, 7:39PM
          • Here Here Paxus, my late father would be disgusted to witness what these societal vandals are doing to the country he gave 4 years of life to defend

            Joh Bonkers Bananaland 2.0
            Date and time
            May 21, 2014, 8:32AM
        • This is sheer lunacy. Peak Oil is upon us and for the first time is being acknowledged by the media and this regressive, simple minded and breathtakingly arrogant government are pulling support for alternatives? The last Government did a remarkable job in getting the renewable sector growing, providing jobs and alternate industries for taxation and now it's all being torn up by ideologues. I did have some hope of mankind avoiding the Peak Oil 'hard crash' scenario, but not any more. This government is a danger to Australia and warrants immediate removal.

          Date and time
          May 20, 2014, 8:37PM
          • GOOD! Because Carbon capture is dangerous to the environment and the future of mankind, it involves the removal of CO2 from fossil fuels and hiding it somewhere like in deep sea for future generations to deal with, it is a BS scheme to make today's Government look like it gives a damn, while only covering up the problem. If the Government really wants to do something about CO@, try a re-forestation of central Australia, after the devastating bulldozing of millions of hectares by cattle ranchers during the 60's - 80's.

            Ron Ruys
            Date and time
            May 21, 2014, 7:37AM

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